By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
As I got the butter out from my fridge the other day, a friend of mine commented in surprise, “You eat butter?”.
She’s right to question. For years, there was no butter in my kitchen because it contains a lot of saturated fat, which nutrition scientists believed could lead to heart disease and possibly increase the risk for cancer and even dementia. But being a nutritionist, I keep up with the food research, and things change. I started thinking of how my diet has changed over the past decade, and here are the main shifts; the ways I changed my own diet for the better.
I ENJOY BUTTER. Even after margarine was exposed as a trans fat nightmare, I still avoided butter because 63 percent of the fat in butter is saturated. I went along with the scientific thinking: If you eat too much saturated fat, levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) rise, and people with higher LDL are more likely to develop heart disease. Read Full Post >
There is a new documentary in the works, and it has certainly captured my attention. Executive produced by Katie Couric and directed by Stephanie Soechtig, the film ”Fed Up” explores the American obesity epidemic, specifically focusing on sugar. However, the film differentiates itself from other books, movies, television specials that focus on sugar in one big way: In addition to railing on sugar as the cause of obesity, “Fed Up” focuses on the fact that skinny is not a sign of healthy.
It’s about time.
I’m so glad that we are finally having a conversation around the fact that someone can thin but still have as much internal body fat as a morbidly obese person. In recent years, emerging research has shown that just because a person is skinny it does not mean that they are healthy. People of average weight can suffer from type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions once thought to be associated with only obese individuals. Weight may not be the driver behind this, but body fat that comes from foods loaded with sugar most certainly is, according to “Fed Up”.
The film attacks sugar pretty seriously, even referring to it as the “new tobacco,” and blaming the food industry and the government as the biggest pushers of the substance. Fed Up focuses on the importance of not blaming children for the fact that they are obese, but rather the marketing that has pushed our country into a sugar induced epidemic. Read Full Post >
You know the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, I definitely judged “I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook” but its cover, or at least its title. Give up sugar? For 8 weeks? Eek! That sounds like a lot of work and not a lot of good (or at least tasty) eating. But even the World Health Organizationhas joined the sugar reduction trend so when Crown Publishing sent me a copy I tried to keep an open mind.
The book, written by Australian television personality Sarah Wilson, is a guide to slowly giving up sugar, welcoming in fat, and finding a place of balance in your body. Over 8 weeks you start to cut back on sugar then quit it all together, spend a couple of weeks without any sweetness to help reset your tastebuds and your cravings, then slowly add in a little natural sweetness as you’d like. The idea is that a little natural sugar (such as those found in fruitsand brown rice syrup) goes a long ways, so long as you break your body’s processed sugar habit.
I read through the book and it sounded plausible, if not actually appealing. But when I got to the recipe section—108 healthy, inspiring meals, snacks, and desserts—I was convinced that “I Quit Sugar” deserved a place on my bookshelf. The recipes are absolutely divine. So far I’ve made two soups—a warm one with sweet potato, lentils, onion, and a blend of spices and a cool one with avocado, cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro. And I have the ingredients for a few more: fluffy squash and chia muffins, cashews chia pudding, and coconut curry meatballs, to name a few. These aren’t necessarily items I would expect to have sugar in them, but it is a good reminder that by focusing on eating good stuff I might naturally start to eat less sugar, which is a concept that’s a lot easier to digest then simply going cold-turkey on sweets. Read Full Post >
We know sugar intake is linked to obesity and obesity-related diseases and that reducing sugar intake can have positive effects on overall health. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a decision that shows it agrees wholeheartedly, advising people to halve the amount of sugar in their diet, from a recommended 10-percent to five-percent.
This dramatic shift is the first change in recommendation since 2002. “It is a tragedy that it has taken 10 years for the WHO to think about changing their recommendation on sugar,” nutritionist and campaigner Katharine Jenner told BBC News. We totally agree.
Though the change has taken a while, it’s sure to make some waves now that it’s arrived. Here’s what you can expect: Read Full Post >
Around the holidays I found myself suffering from a cold. Since going gluten-free and dairy-free, it’s an anomaly for me to need an anti-histamine or decongestant. Knowing how sugar impacts the immune system, I assumed one of the culprits must be the holiday sweets I was consuming, even though it was in moderation. When I received the book the 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo as a Christmas gift, I decided that I would give the program a try starting January 1.
Last year around this same time, I completed approximately 16 weeks of a three-level allergy-detox (stopping when I had lost too much weight). The programs did not seem all that different so I didn’t think it would be that difficult to go 21 days.
One of the most important things I have learned about dietary change is that restriction can lead to binging. If we feel limited, desire increases and takes on more importance. During my allergy detox, while I constantly had to check my list of approved foods, I was able to eat as much steak and eggs or bacon burgers (no bun) as I needed to. While I realize not everyone agrees, I don’t have a problem witheating fats.
Pamela Reilly, ND, CNHP, MH, CWHP, is a Naturopathic Physician and speaker that I trust with my own health and wellness. She designed the allergy-detox program that I completed last year. She clarifies that “if an eating style is extremely restrictive it is not intended to be permanent.”
I do think part of the secret to success is making sure that you do not feel restricted and finding indulgences when you need them. Sometimes you really do just need to make it just a few more hours before the craving subsides. On the other hand, over indulging does not do your body any favors.
Even if the indulgence is something like grapefruit—too much of even a good thing is still too much. Reilly believes that “people who truly want to change react really well to restrictions”; however, she adds that she “always provides substitutes when telling people to remove something” because she believes “it’s a lot healthier to function from an abundance mindset and to focus on the benefits and not what you are eliminating.” Read Full Post >